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a moral-political term meaning a time-serving, passive acceptance of the existing order of things and of prevailing opinions. Conformism means the absence of individual positions and the unprincipled, uncritical acceptance of the position backed by the greatest pressure—for example, recognized authority, tradition, or the opinion of the majority. In modern bourgeois society, conformism with respect to the existing social system and prevailing values is instilled by the educational system and by ideological influence. It is a typical feature of bureaucratic organizations. Unlike conformism, socialist collectivism presupposes the individual’s participation in working out group norms, the conscious assimilation of group values, and, subsequently, the correlation between the individual’s behavior and the interests of the collective and of society and, if necessary, the subordination of the individual’s personal interests to theirs.

The conformity studied by social psychology (that is, conforming reactions) must be distinguished from conformism. The assimilation of certain group norms, customs, and values is a necessary aspect of the socialization of the personality and a precondition for the normal functioning of any social system. However, the sociopsychological mechanisms of this assimilation and the degree of the personality’s autonomy with respect to the group sometimes vary. Sociologists and psychologists have long been interested in such questions as imitation, social suggestion, and “psychological contamination.”

The modes in which the individual selects and assimilates social information and the measure of his response to group pressure became the subject of intense experimental psychological research in the 1950’s. It has been found that a constellation of factors are involved, including personal attributes (for example, the degree of suggestibility, the firmness of self-appraisal, the level of self-respect, anxiety, and intellect, and the need for approval from others). Conforming reactions have been found to occur more frequently among children than among adults and more frequently among women than among men. Group factors, such as the individual’s status in the group, its importance to him, and the degree of cohesiveness and the structure of the group are also important, as are situational considerations—for instance, the content of the task and the subject’s commitment to it, his competence, and whether a decision is reached publicly, within a narrow circle, or privately. Cultural factors also affect the modes of selection and assimilation of social information by the individual and his response to group pressure. Among them is the value a given society attaches to personal independence and to independent thinking.

Thus, although a high degree of conformism is associated with a particular type of personality, conformism cannot be regarded as an independent personality trait. The correlation between the degree of conformity and other sociopsychological phenomena, such as suggestibility, rigidity of attitude, stereotyped thinking, and the authoritarian syndrome, calls for further investigation.


Kon, I. S. Sotsiologiia lichnosti. Moscow, 1967.
Obshchaia psikhologiia. Edited by A. V. Petrovskii. Moscow, 1970. Pages 109–11.
McGuire, W. J. “Personality and Susceptibility to Social Influence.” In Handbook of Personality Theory and Research. Edited by E. F. Borgatta and W. W. Lambert. Chicago, 1968.
Marlowe, D., and K. J. Gergen. “Personality and Social Interaction.” In The Handbook of Social Psychology, vol. 3. Edited by G. Lindzey and E. Aronson. New York, 1968.


References in periodicals archive ?
The first is the tendency for individuals to adopt the most common behavior in the population, which is called "conformist transmission." This effect is the result of an overwhelmingly large assortment of products and information, where consumers face choice difficulties because of their bounded rationality and the high search costs that would emerge if the consumer has to find all relevant information himself.
The chapter on religious authority considers first the contempt both reformers and conformists had for the papacy.
The way films are designed, the way films came to be designed in the later 70s and 80s, I think it all pretty much started with The Conformist.
Prior considers the arguments that both conformists and reformists made about the proper relationship between civil and ecclesiastical authority and notes that the writings of the period, whether presenting a case for civil or secular authority, were similar in their manner of argument and their use of a wide range of texts.
In an article in Sweden's Axess Magazine, William Strauss and Nell Howe, generational studies gurus and authors of Millennials Rising, call today's young adults "America's new conformists," observing that they "believe in security rather than radicalism, political order rather than social emancipation, collective responsibility rather than personal expression."
This system seems to have imposed a sort of duty to appear "brilliant" and amusing and therefore to adopt superficial stances and conformist visual models.
The sixth section looks at the cycle of philosophical and practical development of a teacher (naive conformist, theoretical conformist, awakening thinker, and authentic philosopher).
Solomon Volkov made the first public argument that Shostakovich was a dissident and not a conformist in 1979 when Testimony was published.
Devised with Israeli choreographer Avi Kaiser, her scenario was clear: breaking out of rigid, conformist diplomacy, eight business-suited men indulged their war-mongering impulses before reverting back to nature.
In this snapshot of Clark's life, Lewis offers a revealing look at the technology capital of the world: how new high-tech companies are formed, how the rules that once governed big corporations are becoming obsolete, how engineers and technicians are displacing the professional executive, the "man in the grey suit." Behind this ostensible desire to create is a desire for total freedom, a need to break with a conformist past.
In a nutshell, Sulloway argues that first-born children are authoritarian and conformist, while later-born kids are more adventurous.
Formerly separated, Catholics and Protestants are busy burying the hatchet and avoiding old doctrinal differences in the pursuit of a common political vision: one nation of clean cut, conformist subjects ruled by an omniscient, punitive male deity.